Regional Rail (RUR) & North-South Rail Link (NSRL)

jass

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
4,735
Reaction score
184
Problem is that any projects going through any form of design-build aren't "shovel-ready", because nobody's in the office at the workstations advancing any of the design work. That's unfortunately one of the few computing tasks you just can't reasonably do while squinting at the 12-inch screen of an underpowered take-home laptop on some civil engineer's kitchen table. They'll go crosseyed trying to update renders that way, and anything that requires AutoCAD or plugging real engineering load-bearing numbers into a structural analysis requires too much processing power to do away from the workstation. This is even affecting stuff that's in final-final design revisions on the cusp of being *true* shovel-ready, like Winchester Center ADA + renovations.
This is false.

We're using remote desktop software.

Ive been working from home using GIS, AutoCAD, Photoshop etc without issue because theyre all running on my office desktop and my home computer is a glorified screen with an internet connection.

As long as no one turns it off in the office.

Edit: Woops didnt see the new page and was beaten. Oh well, just to add we werent allowed to take any big equipment home, just company laptops for those who had something completely unusable at home.
 

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
2
Funny enough the only engineers not remoting in are MassDOT employees. There aren’t enough VPNs to go around so most are just using their personal devices...
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
Funny enough the only engineers not remoting in are MassDOT employees. There aren’t enough VPNs to go around so most are just using their personal devices...
Everyone is finding out their bandwidth shortfalls brutally right now. Unfortunately if your VPN is only set up to reliably support X number of home workers and you are suddenly--within a week's time way too short to order anything to cope--required to support X * Y home users...it's slow & ugly kludge-ville trying to do real work over 4G cellular and having your workflow crippled by latency issues. Shit, you can't even watch Netflix at full resolution in your leisure because of how much load everyone's Zoom time has put on the backend-most Internet infrastructure; they've had to downsample around the traffic spike.

The theoretical capability to do mass work from home does not mean it's actually getting done at acceptable quality or pace because the limits of telecommuting infrastructure have never been tested like this before. And in most cases has had its immediate bandwidth needs underestimated by several order of magnitude. So for civil engineering projects you have to factor that in much the same way as the supply chain getting all nicked up the more hands have to be involved. You're extraordinarily limited in what you can expedite because the more touches you make outside of that home field crew doing non-permit work with materials onhand in 'everlasting' cycled work the more you're readily you're going to get upended by a bandwidth (be it supply-side, third-party labor-side, or digital) issue forced by COVID-19 outside of the project originator's control. So in no way are there ever going to practically be any creative avenues for working "bonus time" towards new project starts. Unless they are absolute dirt-simple in nature, 99% of that 'potential' will get cut down right upon first-look within hours if not days by some bandwidth clog related to having to coordinate with multiple parties, and any one of those key players being paralyzed by something related to COVID-19.

The most self-contained tasks fare best...but that means you've got to manage a very limited potential work slate. Stuff that isn't going to be anything Joe Pesaturo can hang many retweets worth of PR karma on, so rather "unsatisfying" work for instant gratification's sake. But...on the other hand, we'll be giving kudos where they're due if Franklin Line DT Phase II finishes 3 months early because of those wider work windows, if the remaining PTC closeouts beat their tight deadlines by weeks because they can plug those much wider Purple Line headways full of extra field testing, and if Fall ends up having a much lighter load of repaving lane closures because MassHighway got to cone off more lane miles to pack it all in April instead. Not exactly lift-the-nation's-spirits kind of wins, but solid nonetheless. If that's the only project board they can feasibly push right now, they're getting every ounce of it by taking that tight corner they're pinned in and running with it for all it's worth. If a bulldozer can grade more miles of shoulder because of less traffic, that's ultimately accomplishing more in the real world than wasting time trying to outthink oneself on tiny-odds plays like hoping one COVID-induced break in the supply chain won't end up tanking an 11th hour expedited project start. The math for that is truly not our friend right now.
 
Last edited:

Highwayguy

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
8
Reaction score
2
At least on the highway side nothing is being expedited except some expanded work hours (which is up to the RE). Can’t comment on the T’s operations but I assume it’s similar. I understand why people outside of the industry would think now is a perfect time to start work on these mega projects (cough Allston cough); however, except maybeeeeee bumping up by a week or two a few ready to go projects, it ain’t happening. Even if the final design was ready to go yesterday, just the advertisement process to select the contractor would take over a month. And that’s not even considering where the money would come from. The TIP is set 5(ish) years out and the Commonwealth is hemorrhaging cash right now.
 
Last edited:

jass

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
4,735
Reaction score
184
Funny enough the only engineers not remoting in are MassDOT employees. There aren’t enough VPNs to go around so most are just using their personal devices...
This is true of many state agencies that are stuck in 1994, technology wise.

Fun fact, NJDOT does not have voicemail because it was cut from the budget over a decade ago.

I know another state agency where the phones they use in the office are so old, they dont even have basic functions like mute, speakerphone, or caller ID.

So those folks are mostly logging onto their person cell phone to respond to the occasional email. They cant do anything else, to no fault of their own.
 

jass

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2006
Messages
4,735
Reaction score
184
FYI

"With reduced vehicular and pedestrian traffic due to the COVID-19 emergency, City Council has approved an accelerated construction timeline for the Metro Purple Line Project resulting in a temporary full closure of Wilshire Blvd. to begin in the coming days. "

 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
FYI

"With reduced vehicular and pedestrian traffic due to the COVID-19 emergency, City Council has approved an accelerated construction timeline for the Metro Purple Line Project resulting in a temporary full closure of Wilshire Blvd. to begin in the coming days. "

Careful about reading too broadly into this! That was a previously awarded shovel-ready contract with already-set work windows. They are only rebooting the work windows; all other logistics have already long been in place. Moreover, the whole reason why the work windows were "controversial" in the first place is that the work involved required noisy pile-driving that could only be done during daytime hours, not on an overnight shift. The previous schedule of work windows had that pile-driving condensed to only a couple hours per day around lunchtime to minimize noise impact to area businesses, which required that daily schedule to stretch on for months and months. With all local businesses now vacant, they have decided to do the "rip the band-aid" off approach and basically extend the loud racket to all daylight hours. Few abutters will be inconvenienced because they're all home, but the job can wrap months sooner so their pain will be brief once they are back to work. That is the only reason why the City Council agreed to this reboot; all impacted parties have already been previously removed from the picture by the stay-at-home order.


It's nigh impossible to take a specific instance so unusually situational in its quirks even by the standards of public works construction schedules and hand-wave that into some sweeping mandate to expedite projects across-board. There is literally not one upcoming project in the whole of Metro Boston that is anywhere close to as fraught with scheduling angst as this one single Beverly Hills road closure with its damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't choice of intensity vs. duration of impacts. Not even the Broadway Bridge GLX closure since that structure is already months-demolished. That one Cali example informs almost literally nothing about what we here could do differently to reshuffle the deck during this epidemic.
 

stefal

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
903
Reaction score
420
Accelerating work for shovel-ready is also a considerable cost increase for the project. Everyone involved will do that cost/benefit analysis to see if it makes financial sense to do so.
 

Joel N. Weber II

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2015
Messages
603
Reaction score
6
Haverhill Line on the Pan Am freight main, for instance, is never going to be able to do more than retractable-edge mini-highs at Ballardvale and Andover (which are not abandonable stops, being in vibrant village centers) because their positions direct-abutting grade crossings rule out freight gauntlet tracks.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andover_station_(MBTA) says Andover has two tracks, one side platform, so isn't the solution there to just build a full length high level platform adjacent to only one track for the commuter trains, and let Amtrak and the freights use the platformless track?

And couldn't Ballardvale be made double track with a full length high level platform on only one track in a similar fashion?

Haverhill Station may also have a problem there accepting a gauntlet because of the adjacent install of guard rail on the Merrimack River Bridge approach.
Reconfiguring Haverhill to have a platform adjacent to only one of the two tracks might be possible if there was somewhere to the north to turn around commuter trains.

Maybe Tony's Used Auto Parts on Rosemont St in Haverhill could be persuaded to move elsewhere so the T could take over that lot, and perhaps that lot could have three island platforms surrounded by a total of six tracks built as a layover and boarding area, along with a parking lot for daily parking by commuters, if Plaistow still doesn't want a train station?
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andover_station_(MBTA) says Andover has two tracks, one side platform, so isn't the solution there to just build a full length high level platform adjacent to only one track for the commuter trains, and let Amtrak and the freights use the platformless track?

And couldn't Ballardvale be made double track with a full length high level platform on only one track in a similar fashion?
The second platform is going to be built as a matching full 800 ft. length mini-high once the Town of Andover DPW yard next door moves across town. The relocation is agreed-upon, but delayed by intra-Andover problems. T's isn't in any tremendous hurry there, so it'll get done when it gets done.

Ballardvale needs real estate easement acquisition before its second platform--likewise an 800 ft. low w/ mini-high--is built. It's planned, but 2nd Andover platform is the more critical get so nobody's in a hurry.

Both of these platforms have permanent exemptions from the Mass Architectural Board for mini-highs w/ retractable edges, because this is the Portland freight main with considerable high-and-wide traffic. Gauntlet tracks can't be built here because of the adjacent grade crossings being excessive derailment risk for a gauntlet with winter ice accumulation in the flanges, and there is no surrounding room for tri-track passers.

Reconfiguring Haverhill to have a platform adjacent to only one of the two tracks might be possible if there was somewhere to the north to turn around commuter trains.

Maybe Tony's Used Auto Parts on Rosemont St in Haverhill could be persuaded to move elsewhere so the T could take over that lot, and perhaps that lot could have three island platforms surrounded by a total of six tracks built as a layover and boarding area, along with a parking lot for daily parking by commuters, if Plaistow still doesn't want a train station?
The T is planning to relocate out of Bradford Layover to a new yard by the state line, as Bradford is too small and is a longstanding noise/fumes Environmental Justice target for the surrounding neighborhood. A site on the Haverhill side of the state line by the Hilldale Ave. industrial park--once under consideration for layover Alternates with the Plaistow Extension before NH canceled it--has been purchased with ground clearing beginning last Fall with a $5M starter grant announced last June. They do not yet have the subsequent funding installments to equip the new yard and set a date for when relocation from Bradford will be complete, but that is now secured and at they have at least been able to turn shovels on the land prep tasks while they await the next funding allotment.

The T still owns Rosemont St. station, acquired in 1979 for a planned 1981 service start that was canceled because of the crippling budget crisis that year. Right now it's just a small MOW yard used by Keolis, with property zoned for a couple side platforms and few-dozen space parking lot. Ample room for full-highs w/ center passing track. It's not anybody's front-burner advocacy, but once they're established in the new layover they can start talking with the city about future considerations and what RUR frequencies could do there. Much of residential Haverhill is relatively far away from the downtown stop and much closer here, so it's a matter of working the MVRTA bus connections to good effect like having Route #13 on Main St. loop down Rosemont to this stop. City will no doubt also have ideas about TOD and more substantial parking on the auto junkyard site next door. All in due time. The fact that the T already owns this property makes it a quick-emerging process when the time comes.
 

Joel N. Weber II

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2015
Messages
603
Reaction score
6
The second platform is going to be built as a matching full 800 ft. length mini-high once the Town of Andover DPW yard next door moves across town. The relocation is agreed-upon, but delayed by intra-Andover problems. T's isn't in any tremendous hurry there, so it'll get done when it gets done.

Ballardvale needs real estate easement acquisition before its second platform--likewise an 800 ft. low w/ mini-high--is built. It's planned, but 2nd Andover platform is the more critical get so nobody's in a hurry.

Both of these platforms have permanent exemptions from the Mass Architectural Board for mini-highs w/ retractable edges, because this is the Portland freight main with considerable high-and-wide traffic. Gauntlet tracks can't be built here because of the adjacent grade crossings being excessive derailment risk for a gauntlet with winter ice accumulation in the flanges, and there is no surrounding room for tri-track passers.
Is the plan at these stations a full length high level platform on one side and a full length low platform on the other side with a mini high, or low with mini-high on both sides?

How many freight trains per day pass through these stations?

With enough new interlockings, would there be anything particularly hard about having one train every 15 minutes in each direction share a single full length high level platform for both directions?
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
Is the plan at these stations a full length high level platform on one side and a full length low platform on the other side with a mini high, or low with mini-high on both sides?

How many freight trains per day pass through these stations?

With enough new interlockings, would there be anything particularly hard about having one train every 15 minutes in each direction share a single full length high level platform for both directions?
Lots of freights. Lowell Jct. south of Ballardvale to Portland is the PAR freight main. You won't have :15 passenger trains to Haverhill to begin with since this is pretty far outside the Route 128 demarcation between hyper-frequent Urban Rail and regular old :30-turn Regional Rail...so Haverhill slots will be half-hourly at most like nearly everything out in 495 land. The presence of freights, which need a healthy dose of midday off-peak slots because they hold off during rush, means that Haverhill, compared to all other RUR schedules, may have slightly less regularity in its clock-facing frequencies. :30 is still the overall target, but I would not be surprised if there were some :45's lightly gapping the off-peak rotations. Absolute perfection was never promised to begin with, and the resulting frequencies are still amazingly full so that's no real-world problem, but this is one of those schedules that has to bend a little bit to reality. The unexpandable 2-track Western main from Lowell Jct. to Lawrence Yard is some of the most congested track in the entire state, with no bypass options available.


The Mass Architectural Board exemption is lows + 1-car mini-highs on BOTH sides @ Ballardvale and Andover. The new platforms will be mirror images of the current ones. When you've got freight + Amtrak passage skipping all around T slots, dispatch can't get too precious about which track is in-use. The only practical solve for ultimately raising those platforms is going to be having gapped full-highs that lack the 3-inch wood gap filler bolted to the end of all other other full-highs on the system that make the doors flush with the platform. There'll be a one-step "mind the gap" a la the Brightline platforms when the train pulls up, and then an on-vehicle automated gap-filler that flips out upon door opening to cover over the gap on first step. Brightline in Florida does that because all of its full-highs lie on the Florida East Coast freight main, which dwarfs anything in Massachusetts in daily freight volumes. Their fleet of Siemens Viaggio Comfort coaches all have the flipping gap-fillers at the door creating a 1 ft. long bridge plate after a few seconds' door-opening delay. Amtrak's Amfleet replacements (which heavily favor an order of those same Viaggio Comforts, which they have also ordered to replace the Midwest Horizons) spec the onboard gap-filler, which will allow the Downeaster to raise all of its platforms on this same Western Route freight main from Exeter Station and beyond to full-highs with gapped edges. Gapped edges are less palatable to have on commuter rail because they do bake in automatic dozen-plus seconds of extra dwell at door opening + dozen-plus seconds of extra dwell at door closing for the onboard automated bridge plate to make its required flip. So that is not a widespread solution for a system that has very little high-and-wide freight overlap to begin with...and certainly not on places like the inner Lowell Line where the extra door dwell does start to pinch the :15 Urban Rail turns with excessive dwells at very rock-bottom use stations like otherwise full-high toughies Wedgemere and Mishawum. But for last-resort places like Ballardvale + Andover that have to be there because the ridership is irreplaceable and just cannot square clearances any other way, it's a future solve for settling them up and getting out from under the current mini-high exemptions. (Note: The mini-highs are completely 100.00% federally ADA-compliant as-is...the only exemption being from the MAB's above-and-beyond state-level regs. In no way/shape/form is there any accessibility violation if you absolutely have to do mini-highs.). We'll have to see if the RFP for 200 bi-level coaches specs anything about onboard auto gap-fillers, which is not on any of the current fleet and has not yet found its way onto anyone else's high-boarding commuter rail fleets. None of the Rotems or K-cars (including the +80 Rotems on-order) have it, but if Haverhill got its equipment assignments explicitly gerrymandered to just the latest-order equipment that did have the auto-fillers you could proceed with gapped full-high construction at Ballardvale + Andover. Just make sure the Haverhill consists are uniformly put together with the auto-filler fleet and doesn't have any K-cars mixed in 'breaking' letter-or-spirit of law accessibility at the gapped full-high.

Note: when Bradford Layover relocates you have all the room in the world to rebuild that stop as full-high with center passer so freights + Amtrak get priority slotting to/from the Merrimack River Bridge around stopped T trains. Haverhill Station *may* or may not have gauntlet tricks to pull...proximity to the bridge makes that require TBD further study before acting. So the last-resort solutions are pretty much limited to just Ballardvale & Andover. And maybe Salem St. on the Wildcat Branch if the shearing-off of Reading Line vs. Haverhill service relocates the North Wilmington stop to the Wildcat, as that pre-1965 station site does not have room for double-track platforms + passers. But additional infills like Rosemont St., Ward Hill/495 at North Andover industrial park, and South Lawrence @ 495/28 all have plenty of space to do up from Day 1 as full-highs with passers.
 
Last edited:

Joel N. Weber II

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2015
Messages
603
Reaction score
6
If we had double track from Lowell Jct to the southern end of the Lawrence yard, a full length high level platform on the west track at both Ballardvale and Andover, and no platform on the eastern track at those two stations, a crossover for northbound commuter trains to move from the eastern track to the western track just south of Tewksbury St in Andover, a crossover facing the other way for freight trains just to the south of that, a crossover just to the north of both the Ballardvale platform and the Andover platform to allow a northbound commuter train to move from the platform to the eastern track, and a crossover just to the south of Essex St in Andover to allow a northbound train to get to the Andover platform from the eastern track, I suspect 15 minute rush hour headways with no freight is possible, with 30 minute mid day headways with freight.

I think the key to 15 minute headways would be to have each northbound commuter train scheduled to arrive at Ballardvale at the same time a southbound commuter train arrives at Andover. When a Downeaster is nearby, the Downeaster would use the eastern track, and whichever commuter train was going in the same direction as the Downeaster would use the eastern track to move between Ballardvale and Andover, with the commuter train going in the opposite direction of the Downeaster using the western track; when no Downeaster is around, having the peak direction train using the western track probably slightly improves comfort and speed for the predominant direction by avoiding the diverging moves through the crossovers.

With 30 minute mid day headways, the commuter trains in both directions could all use the western track from the Ballardvale to Andover platforms, assuming northbound trains arrive at Ballardvale roughly 15 minutes after southbound trains arrive at Andover, which means that when no Downeaster is around, freight could use the eastern track between the Ballardvale and Andover stations. Between Andover Station and the Lawrence yard, northbound commuter trains would probably need to use the eastern track, perhaps for about 5 minutes out of every 30.

15 minute headways with mostly single tracking is possible:

 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
If we had double track from Lowell Jct to the southern end of the Lawrence yard, a full length high level platform on the west track at both Ballardvale and Andover, and no platform on the eastern track at those two stations, a crossover for northbound commuter trains to move from the eastern track to the western track just south of Tewksbury St in Andover, a crossover facing the other way for freight trains just to the south of that, a crossover just to the north of both the Ballardvale platform and the Andover platform to allow a northbound commuter train to move from the platform to the eastern track, and a crossover just to the south of Essex St in Andover to allow a northbound train to get to the Andover platform from the eastern track, I suspect 15 minute rush hour headways with no freight is possible, with 30 minute mid day headways with freight.
It doesn't matter; they're not doing that. They have the MAB exemption in-hand for both stations to construct duplicate mini-highs on Track 2. That's what they're doing. No crossover games fed into a crapshoot as to whether everything's running on-time (because counting on Pan Am to run on-time is a fool's game). 2 tracks, 2 platforms, 2 mini-highs: that's the plan. They have the gapped full-high option to explore at some later date when they have the compatible cars for it and can perma-solve a more equitable solution.

I think the key to 15 minute headways would be to have each northbound commuter train scheduled to arrive at Ballardvale at the same time a southbound commuter train arrives at Andover. When a Downeaster is nearby, the Downeaster would use the eastern track, and whichever commuter train was going in the same direction as the Downeaster would use the eastern track to move between Ballardvale and Andover, with the commuter train going in the opposite direction of the Downeaster using the western track; when no Downeaster is around, having the peak direction train using the western track probably slightly improves comfort and speed for the predominant direction by avoiding the diverging moves through the crossovers.
Again...the Rail Vision is NOT considering any 15-minute headways out in 495-land. Not even the kitchen-sink Alternative 6. Absolutely nowhere in the entire process and advocacy for RUR did anyone ever say :15 to the foot of the NH State Line was a thing we should be shooting for. The service proposal is for :30 frequencies on Lowell and Haverhill, interlined out to Wilmington for :15 coverage within Route 128...but 30-minute turns where the lines fork after that. The North Station throat can't handle 15 minutes to all five 495-land schedules to begin with, so right then and there it's moot. But also zero...nada...zilch calculated demand data the Rail Vision is based on points to a need for 15 minute turns that far outside of town. The last-mile feeders flat-out don't exist to sustain that kind of density. 30 minutes is a threshold that'll attract riders. Twice that service level is a loss leader nobody can afford right now. I don't know where the idea came from that we need to crack the nut that gets 15-minute turns to all the hour-long schedules. Literally no one nowhere has ID'd that as a foreseable need.

Maybe in 30 years when car ownership has significantly changed in ways that are hard now to predict the RTA's will have filled out the suburbs with last-mile feeder buses. And then we can reach for some extra gear much more rapid than half-hourly, and have the NSRL + a maxed-out expansion North Station surface terminal ready to filet another massive frequency increase to absorb it all. But that is not a demand curve anyone can plot based on demographics in 2020. The trending that supports better-than half-hourly service does not exist.

15 minute headways with mostly single tracking is possible:

No, it's not. The Trillium Line isn't a mainline commuter RR with meets in mixed freight and intercity traffic 25 miles outside the CBD. It's a 5-mile, 5-station only light rail line inside city limits running DLRV vehicles on time separation from all other forms of line traffic, same as the NJ Transit RIVERLine. Nothing could be more unalike to the Purple Line or scaling therein. The Reading Line is going to do :15 turns with all of Malden still being single-track, but the only ways it achieves that is by Haverhill thru service vacating to the Lowell Line, Reading Jct. in Somerville being modded for a 2 x 2 track split, Wellington passing siding being upgraded and lengthened, 2nd track being extended 1/4 mile from Ash St. Reading through the Reading platform, and North Wilmington being swapped over to the Wildcat with Haverhill schedules. Reading will be 2 segments of single-track 1 mile & 2 miles respectively...and 3 segments of double: 0.4 miles, 0.75 miles, and 6.3 miles. That's the minimum comfortable for managing a 12-mile Urban Rail schedule with 8 stations, conventional equipment, no other on-line traffic sources, and 1.8 miles of co-running with the Eastern Route in Somerville. And that is the only stretch of single track on the system where they will be running 15-minute turns. All others are pre-existing DT mains, and the Old Colony is flat-out omitted from RUR except for some token off-peak backfills because it's not capable until somebody comes up with the $$$ for a Dorchester-Quincy ROW widening.

They aren't soliciting Innovation Proposals for traffic charts saying they're wrong, much less wrong because of an apples-turnips comparison from elsewhere. They've established what infrastructure thresholds they're comfortable running Urban Rail with chaos-proof OTP through, and below what thresholds they aren't. Just as they've established how many zones out :15 is warranted, how far out before :30 becomes the more effective target, and exactly why force-feeding :15 to the :30 folks is egregious waste they are decades of last-mile infill from being ready to support. The basic planks of the Rail Vision alts aren't up for total reboot. If they proceed with one of the max-build Alternative...that's what it's going to be. Speculation about :15 minute turns out in 495 land is service-level Crazy Transit Pitches vs. what they are actually aiming to enact.
 
Last edited:

Joel N. Weber II

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2015
Messages
603
Reaction score
6
After I wrote that, I realized that the Ballardvale platform and parking lot are currently on the east side of the track, not the west side of the track.

That makes me think we should pursue one full length high level platform on the west track at Andover Station and one full length high level platform on the east track at Ballardville, no platform on the opposite track at each station, double tracking all the way from Lowell Junction to the Lawrence yard, and several of crossovers:

a universal interlocking just to the north of the Ballardvale platform

a universal interlocking just to the south of Essex St in Andover

a crossover allowing a northbound train to get from the western track to the eastern track just to the north of the Andover Station platform, and another crossover facing the same way just to the north of the yard lead switch

a crossover allowing a southbound train to get from the eastern track to the western track just south of Tewksbury St in Andover, and another facing the same way a bit to the south of where a freight train headed to Lowell branches away from the freight track but probably to the north of Lowell Jct Rd.

With that, all Amtrak Downeaster trains should normally be able to stay on the right hand track.

Northbound commuter trains would normally be on the right hand track except in the immediate vicinity of Andover Station, but when a freight train is present on the eastern track just south of the Lawrence yard might use the western track to get around that freight train.

Southbound commuter trains would normally be on the right hand track except in the vicinity of Ballardvale station, and could use the crossover just south of Tewksbury St in Andover when the nearest train is a northbound commuter train, or the crossover just south of the Lowell Junction switch when there's a freight train in that area.

Northbound freight trains would have to use the left hand track from Lowell Junction to just north of the Ballardvale platform, after which they should stay on the right hand track all the way to the yard.

Southbound freight trains would use the left hand track from the yard to the interlocking just south of Essex St, where they'd move to the right hand track to continue to Lowell Junction.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
After I wrote that, I realized that the Ballardvale platform and parking lot are currently on the east side of the track, not the west side of the track.

That makes me think we should pursue one full length high level platform on the west track at Andover Station and one full length high level platform on the east track at Ballardville, no platform on the opposite track at each station, double tracking all the way from Lowell Junction to the Lawrence yard, and several of crossovers:

a universal interlocking just to the north of the Ballardvale platform

a universal interlocking just to the south of Essex St in Andover

a crossover allowing a northbound train to get from the western track to the eastern track just to the north of the Andover Station platform, and another crossover facing the same way just to the north of the yard lead switch

a crossover allowing a southbound train to get from the eastern track to the western track just south of Tewksbury St in Andover, and another facing the same way a bit to the south of where a freight train headed to Lowell branches away from the freight track but probably to the north of Lowell Jct Rd.

With that, all Amtrak Downeaster trains should normally be able to stay on the right hand track.

Northbound commuter trains would normally be on the right hand track except in the immediate vicinity of Andover Station, but when a freight train is present on the eastern track just south of the Lawrence yard might use the western track to get around that freight train.

Southbound commuter trains would normally be on the right hand track except in the vicinity of Ballardvale station, and could use the crossover just south of Tewksbury St in Andover when the nearest train is a northbound commuter train, or the crossover just south of the Lowell Junction switch when there's a freight train in that area.

Northbound freight trains would have to use the left hand track from Lowell Junction to just north of the Ballardvale platform, after which they should stay on the right hand track all the way to the yard.

Southbound freight trains would use the left hand track from the yard to the interlocking just south of Essex St, where they'd move to the right hand track to continue to Lowell Junction.
Stop. They are not doing this. The plan is locked-in. They are not reconsidering what they are doing.

All of what you keep harping on here is deep-end Crazy Transit Pitches material, because they are NOT reconsidering the 2nd platform arrangements at Ballardvale and Andover nor building a Rube Goldberg's Machine worth of crossovers as a proof-of-concept that they could overcomplexify themselves into a wormhole if they wanted to. Not. Not ever.

The MAB exemption for matching mini-highs has already been granted, agreed upon with Town of Andover for both stations, and starts with Andover Station first as soon as the DPW yard relocates. At some later date when vehicle-side bridge plates are a thing they can revisit their options with gapped full-highs. That's the plan.

Repeat: they are not doing this incredibly overcomplicated something else.


Why is this so hard to accept???
 

Joel N. Weber II

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2015
Messages
603
Reaction score
6
A single full length high level platform at each station would be better for wheelchair accessibility than having an inferior platform on one or both sides, and any gap filler thing becomes a new thing for the T to maintain that might introduce new maintenance challenges. The T has plenty of experience maintaining crossovers, even if sometimes they're a challenge in the winter...
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
6,322
Reaction score
1,215
A single full length high level platform at each station would be better for wheelchair accessibility than having an inferior platform on one or both sides, and any gap filler thing becomes a new thing for the T to maintain that might introduce new maintenance challenges. The T has plenty of experience maintaining crossovers, even if sometimes they're a challenge in the winter...
No, it wouldn't. Because the OTP of the T's and Amtrak's and especially Pan Am's is nowhere near robust enough to play bugfark crossover games in this statewide worst spot for midday congestion amongst all 3 carriers and not have the schedule shit the bed multiple times per week when somebody gets in the way. This isn't even the T's railroad to dispatch; Pan Am dispatch is calling the shots all points north of Lowell Jct. You can't stake perfect laboratory-condition timings to a too-many-chefs riddled stretch of track like this.

A mini-high is 100.0000% accessible by federal ADA standards. The only reason the MAB's tougher-than-feds accessibility stance granted exemptions here is: because single-platform crossover rope-a-dope games won't ever work reliably here. Aggregate accessibility is harmed--for everyone--by garbage-unreliable schedules created by mis-timed slots. And that is all why the MAB didn't put a gun to the MBTA's and Pan Am's heads to bend spacetime with physics-defying dispatch acumen here.


"Yeah, but. . ."

No.

"But what if. . ."

NO.

All parties--T, MAB, Town of Andover--made up their fucking minds 5 years ago on this and aren't going to revisit now because someone is outthinking their own selves with some ever-grander mobius strip of a crossover sequence in perfectly theoretical laboratory conditions. Build a time machine and start crashing past-tense Andover town meetings if you want to influence someone to a different decision. Beating the dead horse to its constituent molecules isn't going to sell a decision that's years-sealed.
 
Last edited:

Top